Coffea Arabica Losing Leaves

ToynewbJanuary 27, 2013

Hi I'm new to this forum and I have just gotten my first plants! I'm excited to get going, but it seems like I'm hitting some issues.

One of them is a coffea arabica plant that's in a 12" pot and is about 4 feet tall. Since I got it about 2-3 weeks ago, I've been noticing the leaves are falling at a pace that seems to be quicker than normal (and speeding up). I think I picked up 10-12 leaves in the last 2-3 days. I attached a picture of the leaves with the stem at the top of the picture and the tips at the bottom. Some have brown tips, but are still pretty green. Others are browning all throughout and then falling off. Some of the leaves that have fallen seem to be pretty green otherwise. These leaves seem to be mostly at the mid-level and lower parts of the tree. The leaves in the picture are just some of the ones that are falling. I know moving it to my house from the nursery will aggravate the tree a little.

I have it in the corner of my condo (inside) next to a sliding glass door. It was getting a few hours of direct sun light, but since then I have pulled up my honeycomb shades to block the direct light (See the picture). I've been feeding it tepid tap water, but the woman at armstrong told me to get it some bottle water instead since Los Angeles tap water is not very good. She also gave me some liquid Miracle-Gro fertilizer to add to the bottled water I give to the plant. However, I'm a little afraid of shocking the plant some more with inducing fertilizer. I just started to spray the plant yesterday in hopes that may help with humidity. Is it too close to the window making it too cold? Temps out here have been 30s F and 70s F, but the inside of my condo has probably been high 50s (at worst is my guess).

Any ideas? Use the liquid fertilizer, bottled water, and move it away from the sliding door? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Hi Toyne and Welcome,

Coffee Arabica is one difficult plant.
It took several attempts before keeping a Coffee tree alive more than 10-years.

My Coffee is summered outdoors...does well in bright-indirect sun, but during winter, 'here in IL,' Coffee sits before south and east windows, plus artificial light at night.

Coffee trees do not like change. After being summered outdoors, then bringing inside, leaves 'may' drop. It's worse when air is dry and lacks circulation.
If soil dries too much, leaves brown then fall.

The good news is foliage will return.
Every year when my Coffee is brought indoors, some leaves brown and drop, but this year, soil dried to the point 80% foliage browned and fell off.

Another possiblity is Spider Mites. Over the years, 'the room Coffee is over-wintered,' is extremely dry,' I discovered Mites. Ridding mites wasn't a problem, however I noticed the area of leaves where mites built webs browned and felt sticky.

To be on the safe side, inspect your tree for fine webbing.

Every so often, I fill the sink with warm water and two drops of dish soap. Set Coffee/pot in water until top soil is saturated.

Although, some might disagree, daily misting helps.

Unless your Coffee is producing new leaves, I'd withhold fertilizer, especially MG.
Fish Emulsion, 'organic fertilizer,' might benefit.

How much sun was your Coffee getting at the nursery? Direct? Bright light? Shade?

I hope your Coffee does well. Remove dead leaves and those that land atop soil.

Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Thanks for the advice Toni! Sorry about getting back to late. Been a crazy week.

So a good amount of the foliage fell from the lower branches. I haven't seen any spider mites, but not entirely sure how to check for them. I don't see any more webs. I just saw that one leaf. I guess at the nursery the plant was indoors and getting lots of filtered light all day long. for now I pulled the blinds all the way to allow for as much sun as the plant can get from the southern facing sliding door windows it's next to.

I have been trying to mist the plant once to twice a day. I also put a plastic saucer on the bottom and filled it with river rocks and some water to help with humidity. I put some moss over the top of the soil in the planter to help with humidity as well. The plant does have new leaves growing from the top, but i guess the main problem was from the bottom. I've just never seen a plant drop so many leaves from the bottom so quick, but the top seems ok. Weird to me. I haven't tried to add fertilizer just yet...

in terms of watering, my plant is 5 feet tall with the planter so I can't really run it in the sink. plus I didn't think it was so good to move the plant too often.

the bottom is slightly bear and I hope it doesn't lose that much more. I guess it's a positive that there are new leaves growing at the top, but the bottom just looks funny now. haha.

thanks for the help, if there are any other suggestions you have for me let me know. i didn't realize I picked such a hard plant.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:52AM
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i think the plant has stabilized some... the bottom half is getting more bare as time passes and leaves fall, but the top is ok it appears.

how often should you add fertilizer to these plants and what kinds of fertilizer (other than the miracle grow liquid stuff)? the planty smell of the tree in my home is great. =)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:06PM
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So my tree is still losing a decent number of leaves from the bottom and it's getting kinda bare now. I think another half of the leaves on the bottom will fall (some are browning/graying) it'll be pretty bear on the bottom.

Here is a picture of the leaves that are dying from the bottom of the tree. Anyone know what may cause this??? Do I have bugs? Spider mites? I don't see any insects. None of the top half of the leaves look like this either and are doing just fine.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:31PM
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here are some other leaves that have fallen.

some leaves that have dropped are almost completely green.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Lastly, here's a pic of the beautiful tree. The bottom once was nice and full like the top, but as you can see lots of branches are almost completely bare now.

any thoughts? i know hopefulauthor said that they lose lots of leaves only to have them grow back, but i'm still concerned. especially with what some of the leaves look like in the above pictures.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Hi Tony.. Sorry, I haven't been here for some time.

Except for one area on your tree, your Coffee looks fine. Its leaves are healthy, shiny, and vivid green.

Do you rotate? If not, please do. 1/4 turn, once a week is sufficient. All sides of your tree need equal amounts of light.

Oh, I'd remove moss. Moss keeps soil wet for prolonged periods, and an invitation to certain insects.

Plants should not be fertilized when sick, but I do not believe your Coffee ill. I think leaf drop is mainly due to moving from nursery to home.

Did the clerk give you dossage instructions for MG?

Tony, I have to go to the store, so hurriedly browsed through your posts. Perhaps you explained. What is the item to the right of your tree?

Obviously, your tree is too large to set in the sink...what about the shower?
The brief time Coffee will be in shower and allowed to dry will not harm your plant. It's not being moved permanently. lol.
Morning is the best time to shower plants.

Air circulation is mandatory. The room my Coffee Tree is wintered, is semi-dry and stuffy. I allowed soil to dry to the point severall leaves dropped..Duh! :)
It's also not happy in the stuffy room. When I turn on the ceiling fan in the LR, I place Coffee in the same room, 'for a time.'

Keep spraying. Toni

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Thanks for your input again! Answering all your questions...

first all i guess i'm concerned because even sometimes the leaves that drop off are completely green, shiny, and look fine, but still fall off, which makes me wonder. Plus there's that leaf scarring in the first picture from feb 13 that makes me worry too. i'm starting to notice the brown tips on the leaves moving up the plant too, which is why i'm slightly worried in the long run. but again I still have brand new growth, so maybe i'm just paranoid.

I did not rotate, but I will rotate it now. it only makes sense to do so, i don't know why i didn't think about it before.

I put the moss in because I was told it actually helps with keeping humidity around the plant.

I still have not used fertilizer yet and have not repotted it from when I got it from the nursery. It's still in the same pot with the same soil. the clerk didn't give me any real instructions for the MG. They just handed it to me and said try it out with some water.

when you say set it in the shower... what exactly do you mean? Am I supposed to hose down the plant in the shower? I won't be using my shower head because i'm pretty sure it would blast off the leaves, but is your recommendation to completely soak the plant from leave to branch to root and all the soil and let it sit there?

just some newbie (may be dumb) questions, but why would you let the soil dry to the point where leaves dropped? i don't have any real air circulation going. that is an air filter next to the plant, but it's not plugged in. i might try to get some more going then.

thanks again for all the help!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:56AM
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I don't really have an answer to why your tree is losing leaves, but can share my experience which is similar to yours.

I have a coffee tree that has lost a good amount of leaves that turned brown first and looked kind of like yours. In the past I have grown this tree outdoors in the summer and under lights in my basement in the winter. (See link below) Because I moved and the tree has gotten very large I put it in my sunroom this winter. It's still pushing out some slow new growth, but the bottom leaves fall off periodically. I've chalked it up to less than ideal winter conditions (low light/humidity) and am hoping it will come back to life in the spring/summer. I'm thinking the continued new growth is a good sign. I also plan on repotting it. Not sure if being root bound is a factor, but it's been in the same pot for a few years. I may cut it back some as well, but I'll probably post looking for advice on how to do that when the time comes because I have no idea how to go about it. One other note, my tree bloomed and produced beans this year for the first time. I don't know if that has anything to do with my leaf loss.

I don't know if that's helpful or not, but either way good luck with your tree.


Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of my tree a couple years ago in this thread

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 2:26PM
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I have the same problem. Sometimes they turn yellow first. I don't know yet if them turning black, or staying green, or turning yellow are 3 different causes though. I'm thinking they are 3 separate issues. Still researching that I know for sure I have no insects or mites. But I think a big cause may be very low humidity in the house. Outdoors they get the benefit of natural humidity, especially at night and in the mornings. I'm not sure though that they like being misted. Yes, they do regrow leaves, and send out new branches. Mine had sprouted big new healthy bright green leaves, sent out it's first branches, and was beautiful. Then I started misting a couple times a day to try to make sure it had enough humidity. Then immediately I got the blackening then dying and dropping of leaves. I stopped misting, and I no longer have black leaves. But I got more leaf drop recently. I think it's because of short wintertime daylight. I don't have grow lights, but I think if I did it would help a lot in the wintertime, to provide the amount and duration of light they need. I use Miracle-Groî Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food at the recommended indoor strength, 1/2 tspn per gallon of water about once every 6 to 7 weeks in the fall and winter, and once a month in the spring and summer. Spring is coming, so I hope the longer daylight hours will help. I'm keeping a close eye on things to make note of any changes as the days get longer. I just wish I had a good indoor humidifier. I'm thinking of putting it in the bathroom each time I take a shower, and leaving it there until the room dries out each day, so it can benefit from the humidity in there.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 11:55PM
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I can't believe this thread is almost 1-yr old.

If Toynewb is still around, I'd be interested hearing how your Coffee plant/tree is doing.

Mike loves...Normally, yellow leaves mean over-watering.
Coffee trees require less water during gray winter days/months.
Does soil stay continuously wet/moist or do you allow it to dry between watering?

Notice daylight hours are lengthening? Thank goodness. More light means new growth.

My coffee goes dormant in winter, so no fertilizer. I'll wait another month then give it half-strength.

Placing your coffee in the shower is a great idea..Afterwards, close the door and allow your plant to soak up humidity.

Does your bathroom have a window?

My old humidifier just kicked the bucket. I purchased two, with reusable filters. They work okay, but I prefer consoles. Problem with consoles is filter expense. 19 and up. lol. Can't win.
Or you can invest in a filter-less humidifier..Walgreen's sells 1.5-2-gallon, filter-less types. The small, filter-less type would work well in a bathroom, but circulating air is important, too. Too much humidity without proper ventilation causes mold.

Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:41AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

In SoCal, the tree should be outdoors -- and in full sun -- unless freeze/frost is predicted.

Can be grown in the ground, too. Again full sun.

When you move it outdoors, take care to harden it off by gradually exposing it to more and more light.

who gardened in Long Beach, CA, for 30-some years and was successful with a coffee tree in the ground outdoors.

This post was edited by jean001a on Sat, Feb 1, 14 at 13:18

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:16PM
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I would also love to hear how Toynewb's plant is doing because I have been getting the precise same symptoms on my 5 year old plant over the past several weeks. The only differences are...

- Mine is much worse. Far more scraggly looking at the base and mid levels.
- It's late Summer here and we've had beautiful weather. Mid to high 20sC and humidity 60-70%.
- It's definitely not root bound as it was repotted in early Spring.

I wonder if it's too shady for it? Usually I put it outdoors in Summer but this year I left it in its indoor Winter spot, which gets sun in Winter but little in Summer. It does have air movement.

It's been getting fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer, plus a few other regular things which have done it no harm before.

I notice that the leaves which drop are the ones whose petioles turn yellow.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 3:25AM
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My coffee tree is not anywhere near as big or pretty as any of yours... Yet! It's only a year old.
But I just posted to another thread and since mine seems to be thriving maybe how I take care of mine can help somebody... Or maybe mine is just young and will encounter those same problems someday- hope not!
Here is the link if it helps :)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 12:50PM
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Hey guys. I have a coffee tree that has thrived over the past 3 year but since moving to canberra and being outside in winter (it's usually Ina greenhouse but grew out if it) it has deteriorated very quickly. It only really happened the past few weeks. It has now lost nearly all of its leaves and I'm scared it won't make it!

We have a bigger greenhouse I can move it to once the crazy weather dies down but not sure what else I can do to look after it.

We have given it a good water and feed and moved it inside.

Any idea what else we could do?

This post was edited by kobirex on Fri, Aug 1, 14 at 3:22

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:41PM
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